Shibata Yoshihiro Guro-Seto Tsutsu Chawan

Potter: Shibata Yoshihiro (Kōkan), Hōsen Kiln

Approximate size: W4.3″ by H4.1″ or 10.8 by 10.5cm

For your consideration, a high quality Seto-guru piece by Shibata Yoshihiro (Kōkan). 5 Generations of the Shibata family have been running the Hōsen Kiln in Mino prefecture since the Keiō era (from 1971 in Seto). Seto pottery belongs to the pottery traditions of the Mino region in Japan which has been renowned for centuries for producing high-quality Shino, Oribe, ki-Seto, along with the style shown here, guro-Seto or “black” Seto. The deep black glaze seen here is applied thickly, applied beautifully around the unglazed foot of the bowl—proudly highlighting the fine clay used in its construction. This chawan with its tsutsu shape and thick black glaze is ideal for cold winter days.

Also known as “Tenshokuro” due to its origins in the Tensho era and also called “Hikidashikuro” from the act of removing it from the kiln when it is glowing red.

Many are cylindrical in shape and are made at an incredibly low elevation. The lacquer is done in the style of Oni-ita where ash is mixed in, and when removed from the 1100℃ kiln with a pair of metal tongs, rapid cooling causes the color to turn black (rapid cooling is sometimes also achieved with water). The tongs leave a mark which is one of the traits of this style.

A similar kind of black tea bowl is found in Kyoto, known as “kuro-Raku”. It is similarly removed from the kiln during firing and subject to rapid cooling, and while it shares the same method of applying a jet black metal lacquer, it differs from the Mino style’s high heat and potter’s wheel clay throwing, whereas kuro-Raku is completely handmade with low heat.


Seto ware is the pottery made in Seto city and nearby areas of modern Aichi prefecture. The Seto area was the center of pottery manufacture in the Kamakura period; ko-Seto (old Seto), designates pieces made at this time. At the end of the Muromachi period the center of the pottery manufacture moved to nearby Mino. At that time, wares made in the area from Seto to Mino were called Seto yaki. In the early Edo period, some pottery manufacture moved back to Seto. In 1822, Kato Tamikichi (1722-1824), introduced sometsuke jiki (blue-and-white porcelain; sometsuke), from Arita in modern Saga prefecture. This porcelain called shinsei (meaning new production), rather than the original Seto ware pottery, hongyou became standard.

During the Meiji period, Seto ware adapted Western techniques, gaining great popularity. In addition to plain Seto, the Mino kilns also produced several types of Seto wares from the mid-16th century, including Seto-guro (black Seto), and ki-Seto (yellow Seto). Ki-Seto, fired at the same kilns as Shino and Seto-guro wares during the Momoyama period, featured “fried bean-curd” glaze, aburagede (油揚げ abura-age or aburage), developed in emulation of Chinese celadons. It utilizes an iron-rich wood-ash glaze and is reduction fired at a high temperature to produce a celadon-like texture and bone color; in an oxygen-rich kiln, the minerals in the clay and glaze create a distinctive opaque yellow glaze.

Motifs are etched in the clay, then highlighted in green. Typical shapes, glazes and decoration all reflect functions in the tea ceremony or kaiseki meal. Guro-Seto wares were made by removing a black-glazed stoneware vessel directly from a hot kiln at the point of glaze maturation, and allowing it to cool in the open air. The sudden temperature change turned the thick glaze a deep glossy black.

From the hefty presence you get when handling this tea bowl to the thick black glaze with its peculiar texture. This is a chawan that will grow on the new owner each time it is held and viewed.

The chawan has no chips or cracks and is in excellent condition. Comes with tomonuno (tea cloth), and original high quality shiho-san tomobako, box bearing the calligraphy of the maker.

€180 + shipping cost

Tsutsu chawan (筒茶碗), are characterized by a tall, cylindrical shape. It contains the warmth of tea during cold days for longer, as well as allowing us to warm our hands. Handmade, therefore unique, they are not only pleasing to the eye, but also capable of enhancing the arrangement of any tea-gathering.